SNP ministers have blocked plans for another big windfarm in Moray amid fears that it would put RAF pilots’ lives at risk.
Military top brass are becoming increasingly worried about the number of turbines in the region and have told the Scottish Government that a proposed development near Keith could jeopardise the safety of fast jets returning to the Lossiemouth base at up to 500mph.
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) was fighting to block the plans for Bodinfinnoch Farm and officials said existing windfarms in the area were already causing a “significant operational issue”.
Yesterday, the government rejected the proposals – agreeing that it would cause “unacceptable interference” with radar.
However, Reading-based developer Wind Ventures is not ruling out a court appeal to try to overturn the decision.
Turbines show up on radar and are difficult to distinguish from small aircraft. As a result, RAF planes steer six miles clear of them.
But with Typhoon jets due to move to Lossiemouth next summer and the number of nearby turbines growing, air force bosses said they would struggle to cope with any further developments.
Under the plans, four turbines on 360ft towers would have been erected at Bodinfinnoch Farm.
The proposal was rejected by Moray Council earlier this year but the developer appealed to Scottish ministers, hoping they would overturn the decision.
In a written ruling, the government said Wind Ventures had argued successfully that the MoD had managed so far to cope with existing turbines, but the scheme could not go ahead
“I consider that the incremental loss of operational airspace is a serious concern to both military and civilian operations, and aviation safety,” a spokesman said.
“The lessons from operational experience are of value, and the risks from desensitisation, loss of detection and from false alarms are not to be dismissed lightly.
“I also agree that it should not be the MoD that has to change its operations in light of development, but for the appellant (the developer) to suggest, investigate and implement solutions to resolve conflicts.
“For these reasons, I conclude that the radar interference caused by the proposed turbines , particularly in combination with other limitations of airspace in Moray, would be unacceptable.”
Squadron Leader Michelle Betts has told the government t hat t he airspace to the south-east of RAF Lossiemouth is “vitally important” to UK defences.
She said more turbines would affect the ability of air traffic controllers toprovide a safe route to base for aircraft that could be low on fuel.
She also said “clutter” on radar screens could result in genuine aircraft not being detected properly, and addressing the impact of wind turbines on air traffic control radar was a “major concern”.
In a further submission, the MoD said the Bodinfinnoch development would cause “unacceptable further degradation” to the integrity of its radar readings south of RAF Lossiemouth.
A spokesman for Wind Ventures said yesterday the company was “considering the options available”.
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